This is a sponsored post by Luxottica, a supporter of NewGradOptometry & new graduate optometrists! 😎
Optometry is a unique profession in that it offers a wide variety of modalities in which to work. There are options in academia, hospital settings, research, ophthalmology, retail optical affiliated, and private practice. You can work for someone or you can work for yourself.
With so many opportunities, it’s important to define your personal and professional goals to find the work setting that allows you to find fulfillment and satisfaction. For me, I found both when I opened an independent practice at Target Optical. As a Luxottica-affiliated optometrist, I’m also eligible to participate with OneSight, a global nonprofit that brings access to eye care to underserved areas around the world.
Target Optical is one of several in Luxottica’s portfolio of brands. With LensCrafters At Macy’s, Target Optical, Sears Optical, LensCrafters and Pearle Vision, Luxottica offers different practice opportunities for optometrists, each with a unique feel and fit. Matching your personality and goals will help set you up for success in something that aligns with your career path.
And if your career path changes? There’s space to grow.
This guide will include a side-by-side comparison of the brands as well as the benefits (and challenges) of each modality.
LensCrafters At Macy’s
LensCrafters At Macy’s, the newest member of the Luxottica brands, has opportunities available for those wanting to run an independent practice inside one of the most recognized department stores in the country. Currently inside nearly 200 Macy’s stores, this practice modality allows optometrists to connect with loyal Macy’s shoppers who frequently visit. Operating as an independent practice, the optometrist sets exam fees and manages the doctor’s office. Optometrists can obtain a turnkey independent practice with low startup and overhead costs.
Patient volume depends on the Macy’s location and daily foot traffic. As a newer brand, traffic will be slower than at the more established LensCrafters. For new graduates and those looking to gain experience but not be overwhelmed, this may be perfect. As you establish your presence, gain experience and connect with regular shoppers, your practice will continue to grow along with your business skills.
Patient Exam Experience
With affiliation, practice setup includes an auto-refractor and NCT, a vision field tester, an Optomap retinal imaging (at select locations), online scheduling and automated recall. RevolutionEHR, a cloud-based electronic medical record system that allows for seamless charting, is available at all LensCrafters At Macy’s locations. From stress-free online scheduling to updated, modern lanes, a patient will find the exam similar to one at a private practice.
If you have a steady 3- 4 day employed gig or already have an independent practice and want to expand, consider a LensCrafters At Macy’s. With some locations requiring as little as three days a week, LensCrafters At Macy’s is a great way to supplement current income and expand your business.
LensCrafters At Macy’s is the least intimidating option of the five brands because you can start with fewer days while earning a steady income from another source. When the practice grows busier, you can transition to your location full-time as an independent practice owner.
Target Optical appeals to a younger demographic who turn to Target for good deals as well as style. With the frequency of Target shoppers, optometrists affiliated with Target Optical enjoy seeing their patients regularly and building rapport with not only them but also their families. Inside 500 Target locations (and counting), this is one of the fastest growing Luxottica brands. Optometrists can obtain a turnkey independent practice with low startup and overhead costs.
Like LensCrafters At Macy’s, Target Optical is located within a large, established retailer. Foot traffic potential is high on most days but will be busiest from Friday through Sunday. With Target’s family appeal, optometrists often examine whole families when they come in to do their weekly shopping. The growth potential at Target Optical is high.
Patient Exam Experience
Patients will see a modern, updated lane on their visit. Monthly rent includes an auto-refractor and NCT, furniture and fixtures, and online scheduling with automated recall. An anti-reflective lab service is available off-site. Visual Field Testers and RevolutionEHR, a cloud-based electronic medical record system that allows for seamless charting, are available in all Target Optical locations.
If you are a new graduate and/or an optometrist with at least one year in practice, consider a Target Optical. Tech-savvy docs will appreciate the national advertising reach of Luxottica’s social media campaigns to drive patients to your location.
The pace of the practice will allow new graduates to gain substantial business know-how in a short amount of time. Don’t let the steep learning curve scare you off. It’s exciting to learn the business of eye care and reap the financial benefits.
Sears Optical treats doctors, employees and patients like members of a family. This treatment is foundational to the Sears brand, and the long established loyal base allows doctors at Sears Optical to fill their schedule.
Sears Optical, just like LensCrafters at Macy’s and Target Optical, is located within an established retailer with reliable foot traffic. This means new optometrists or established doctors looking to pick up extra work will have the opportunity for growth alongside a steady patient base.
Patient Exam Experience
With affiliation, practice setup includes furniture and fixtures, an auto-refractor and NCT, a vision field tester and online scheduling with automated recall. Retinal imaging is available at a reduced cost to Sears Optical affiliated independent practice owners.
Sears Optical is perfect for a new graduate, a doctor looking for supplemental income, partial retirement or part-time while raising children.
Luxottica’s flagship brand, LensCrafters, has been providing quality eye care to communities for over 30 years. Optometrists affiliated with LensCrafters join a collective force who provide comprehensive eye care in a patient-focused environment. Optometrists can obtain a turnkey independent practice with relatively low startup and overhead costs.
Located in highly visible, accessible locations such as in or near shopping and retail centers, LensCrafters-affiliated doctors see a high volume of patients. Because of this, a majority of LensCrafters include multiple lanes to accommodate the patient demand.
Patient Exam Experience
Clarifye℠ technology, a digital program that utilizes wavefront technology to acquire accurate measurements of the eye, is available in most LensCrafters locations. It provides insight into a patient’s visual profile and aids in patient education by providing animations and material for patients to better understand their eye health.
LensCrafters’ practice setup includes an auto-refractor and NCT, a visual field tester, and online scheduling with automated recall. Updated spaces enhance the patient experience with relaxing waiting areas and clean, modern lanes.
Those ready to open a high-volume practice should consider opening an independent practice at LensCrafters. Candidate should be comfortable managing an office staff and have a familiarity with business operations.
Founded in the early 1960s by Dr. Stanley Pearle, today the 530+ U.S. and Canadian Pearle Vision locations continue his mission to be the neighborhood eyecare practice of choice. Together with Pearle Vision, you’ll provide a holistic experience supported by the brand’s commitment to providing genuine eye care for every patient.
As one of the largest, most trusted brands in the optical industry, the name Pearle Vision keeps patient volume steady. Franchise locations have multiple lanes to accommodate patient volume. Corporate-owned locations that hire employed optometrists usually have one lane.
Patient Exam Experience
Pearle Vision creates a welcoming atmosphere from the moment you step in the door. Bright colors and clean lines greet patients in the comfortable waiting area. Doctors and trained optical staff guide patients through the experience starting with a thorough eye exam and ending with assisting with selecting glasses.
Optometrist looking for a more ambitious endeavor or ownership in an optical practice should consider a Pearle Vision franchise. Some independent practice opportunities exist within Pearle. Franchise ownership will likely be more lucrative in the long run.
Before signing on the dotted line, have your finances in order. Costs include (but may not be limited to) commercial lease, optical inventory, equipment purchase and franchise fees. Franchise owners qualify for a vendor price reduction on equipment as well as frames, lenses, lab service and supplies. A new program rolled out in 2017 from Bankers One Capital offers up to 100% of practice startup costs to get new and experienced doctors into Pearle Vision.
Franchise support also comes in the form of marketing dollars with an established $35 million marketing program, TV ad power, local event planning and a dedicated field marketing team to help you build and manage patient relationships.
Why so many options?
By offering practice modalities that align with the different stages of an optometrist’s career path, Luxottica hopes optometrists will find a place and practice modality that fit them now and in the future. If a doctor wants to grow his practice, there are opportunities. If a doctor wants to lessen his workload to dedicate more time to family, there are opportunities for this, too.
For example, a new graduate starts off with a few days at LensCrafters At Macy’s. After gaining both clinical and business experience, he moves on to an independent practice with Target Optical or LensCrafters. A few years later, he expands to multiple locations and hires associate doctors to handle the patient volume and practice growth.
Or, after several years of running independent practices at multiple LensCrafters locations, an optometrist decides he wants to own a franchise and control the optical sales in addition to his practice. He opens a Pearle Vision and sees his income jump dramatically.
With so many options, optometrists can design their own path. That’s exciting.
An employed doctor is hired by a corporation, an independent practice owner or a franchise owner. Similar to employed positions in other industries, employed optometrists earn an agreed upon hourly rate and/or salary, may collect health insurance benefits and receive paid holiday leave.
This type of modality is ideal for those seeking a reliable income with minimal risk and personal financial commitment. New graduates often choose this path to earn money quickly to pay off student debt.
Independent Practice Owner
An independent practice owner leases space and equipment from either a franchisee or the corporate location. The doctor typically signs an agreement on how much coverage they will provide. Set exam fees are at the discretion of the doctor. The doctor hires and manages their own staff. Financial investment and time commitment vary across brands and practice locations.
Owning a franchise comes with the largest financial rewards of all available modalities. With earnings on both retail and optometric services, franchise owners’ incomes can be substantial. As a Pearle Vision franchise owner, the franchisee pays royalties and advertising based on a percentage of the store’s gross optical revenue, in exchange for the systems, products and marketing done by the franchise. A franchisee will work with the franchise to ensure the store is optimally run. The franchisee will be responsible for many aspects of the store, from choosing the doctor, to the location, frame board, etc. Many of the processes are established and ready to implement (such as point of sale system).
Compensation & Benefits
An employee can be compensated at an hourly rate or have a salaried position. Employed doctors may or may not receive benefits depending on the employer and the number of hours the employee works.
Employee benefits can include health, vision and dental insurance, retirement plans, continuing education allotments and paid vacation/sick days. An employed doctor receives a pre-determined payment regardless of the number of patients she sees.
An independent practice owner earns income based on the number of exams she gives and any specialty services she provides. While this is also true for franchise owners, franchise owners also earn income on all optical sales. Independent practice owners and franchisees do not receive company health benefits or access to contribute to company 401K plans.
Hours worked depend on location and foot traffic. On average, most doctors (employed, independent and franchisee) work eight-hour shifts on weekdays and shortened hours on the weekends.
Independent practice hours depend on patient demand. LensCrafters At Macy’s may open for three days a week. A busy LensCrafters location may offer doctor hours seven days a week. Where demand is high, a practice may offer double doctor days to accommodate patient needs.
Non-Patient Care Duties
Employed doctors primarily focus on patient care and leave the administrative tasks to practice owners.
Independent practice and franchisee owners’ administrative responsibilities include (but may not be limited to) billing insurance claims, setting support staff schedules, finding doctor coverage and other management duties.
My Path: The Choices I Made
My first job after graduation is what all nightmare jobs are made of. I was working in a private practice four days a week, but I was only there for one month. The office was an older one and most of the equipment did not work properly. The management was horrible and always questioning me every time a patient did not purchase glasses. I found myself dreading going to work, and I became easily frustrated and short with the staff more and more each day that I was there. That was not the person I wanted to be!
Fortunately, I was able to fill in at LensCrafters once a week and that became my way out of the practice. It is such an intimidating experience when you are a new grad stepping out on your own for the first time. I learned that going forward I would either want to work for myself or work for someone who appreciated and valued me as a doctor and did not view me as a salesperson.
Filling in at LensCrafters allowed me to meet contact lens rep who shared opportunities that were available at other offices. I ended up landing a few days at Costco and one day a week running a FDA study at a refractive surgery clinic. When I was in school, I never thought that I would work in retail or that I would be working in research. I loved everything that I got to do. I saw a high volume of patients with a good variety of challenging cases that helped hone my clinical skills and keep me on my toes.
After a year working in an optical retail setting, I gained a tremendous amount of clinical experience and a chance to observe how to successfully run a business. I just knew that I was ready to take on a new challenge, and I was fortunate to find a new Target Optical near me that was available.
When choosing the type of practice modality I wanted, I considered my financial situation, risk tolerance, long term goals, and ideal lifestyle. As a new graduate with many pressing financial commitments, I only felt comfortable taking this next step after gaining clinical and business experience.
When you feel confident in your ability to perform the duties of a business owner, independent practice or franchise will be great options to consider. Doctors who want to have their own practice without having to use up much of their savings to start might consider an independent practice affiliated with Luxottica because the initial costs are very low. Opening an independent practice is affordable to start and maintain and most earn the rent in a few days’ work.
Having my Target Optical has been a great career move for myself and my family, and I am just about ready to expand once the right location is available.
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